There’s been a lot of shuffling in the SERPs recently because Google has released a major update to its algorithm which is called the Penguin Update designed to fight web spam. It’s been a little over a year now since there was the Panda Update which was meant to penalise sites based on the quality of the content they host.



Difference between Google Panda and Penguin

Panda looks at the quality of the content on your webpages. If you have more bad content than good content, you’ll be penalised.

Penguin looks at spam signals on and to your website. If you have spammy backlinks or have over optimised your website, you’ll get penalised.

How to recover from the Penguin Update

Just like with Panda, you can recover from the Penguin update by undoing the “bad” that is, removing spam traces in relation to your website. Since both updates are algorithm based, you will be affected if you exceed a certain threshold. This is a good thing because it means no manual action has been taken on your website and you don’t need to file a reconsideration request to Google. You just need to clean up your mess.

You need to analyse your traffic thoroughly first though because Google made a Panda Update live on the 19th of April (Panda 3.5) and rolled out the Penguin Update on the 24th of April 2012. If you see your traffic dipped on the 19th or 20th, this means you got caught in the Panda data refresh. If your web traffic looked normal up until the 24th, then the Penguin got you.

Now how easy it is to get your search rankings back depends on how severe your link building/spamming was. If you could flip a switch and get all black hat/grey hat links removed, then by all means do that. But the problem is that many of the links that people (SEOs) have built over the years are spread everywhere. Some websites (blog networks) that SEOs have control on will be easy to remove but others won’t be so easy and it will be a very challenging/time consuming/frustrating task to contact other webmasters in an attempt to remove the bad links.

For over optimised pages, you can check the keyword density and see if your title and anchor text are too aligned. From what I’ve gathered, if you backlinks look unnatural, you will become the victim of Penguin. A natural link profile consists of website url, website name, image links, anchor text like homepage, click here, etc and if yours is all about keyword based anchors, then you’ve fallen into the traps of Penguin. If you cannot get rid of certain links, then you should build more links to your webpage with varied unrelated anchors like I mentioned earlier. This will dilute the effects of over-optimised anchor.

Note that there are 3 things that you need to take into consideration when making your changes:

1. Your website will be re-evaluated when the Penguin algorithm is run again (maybe in 4-6 weeks time)

2. You will be get your rankings back only if you no longer exceed the spam threshold limit (this depends on how many bad links you have)

3. If your changes are not updated in Google index, you won’t see the effects. So if you have removed a bad link on a certain forum/blog but Google has not recrawled that page yet, you’ll still be penalised.

At the moment, exact match domains (EMD) have been hit the most because they were primarily used to manipulate rankings for competitive keywords. By under optimising these domains, I’m quite sure they can get depenguinalised. I’ve already done that of some EMDs that I own and will convey the results later on.

Negative SEO is considered to be a huge problem now because competitors are more likely to buy cheap links to point your way to get you penalised. As it stands now, big brands are immune to this type of manipulation but small websites will suffer. Unless penguin becomes clever enough, let’s us pray that we don’t fall victims to heartless competitors.

 



3/May/2012

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